Startups are already courageous businesses and the aspiring entrepreneurs behind them need to adopt a risk-taking mindset to take the plunge. Typically for all startups, idea is born, plans are streamlined, funding is received and the business starts to take form… Until unforeseen circumstances, such as a nationwide uprising surfaces, and plans suddenly come to a halt.
BDD, as a key ecosystem player, has been actively supporting the startup scene in Lebanon, creating a community for companies to thrive. BDD have been actively supporting new startups by linking them to accelerators and incubators, providing a test market within the community (for new products or services), hosting global expert events and providing access to funds. BDD Academy was also founded, to hone entrepreneurial skills and address talent gaps. Building a community through an environment catering to creative minds, BDD provides the framework for ambitious and sustainable communities, to foster collaboration and the sharing of ideas.
However, throughout the past month, the community has changed form, adapted and responded to the transformations across Lebanon. The national uprising has impacted businesses in different ways, some flourishing and others in a negative spiral. Some startups are unable to reach their set goals for the coming period, and prospects to access funding and markets have been dampened.
Other startups in the BDD community and beyond have utilized this time to pivot and test their systems / processes, to be ready to go to market when matters subside. In order to gauge the actual impact of the uprisings, startups at BDD were asked about the impacts on their businesses:
Keeping positive, eyeing international opportunities
“The revolution has definitely led to the cancellation of a few projects in the near future, but we have the faith that the next phase will definitely compensate the current situation with more events and projects. This period opened our eyes to the international market, where we are presenting our concepts to investors who showed real interest in execution at the soonest.”
Nemer Jreige - Event Consultant & Managing Partner, Art/Monit
“The glass half filled: Made us put double the effort on international opportunities since the world can be our market as long as we have wifi in Lebanon (let's hope Wifi won't be affected). As a startup with a mission, we feel that we have a role in keeping things moving for this country... And we started a "Revolution Promotion" to support B2B clients whose employees are facing difficulties in their daily commute to work. This is actually a good time for carpooling but a bad time for business in general.”
Ralph Khairallah, CEO, carpolo
“The uprising has definitely affected most industries, especially businesses which only cater to the Lebanese. Thankfully, being in the educational sector, and since our model caters to clients from the comfort of their home, we were able to onboard a couple of new clients and cater to some of our existing ones, and maintain a growing operation in our second market, the UAE.
We are taking the time to plan and finalize pending projects in Lebanon and growing our market in the UAE.”
Audrey Nakad, Co-Founder & CEO of Synkers
Eyeing the long-term
“The revolution is great for the country and people, but not for growing the startups servicing clients in Lebanon: some clients have recently frozen their budgets and have stopped all new initiatives going forward until things clear up. However, the revolution’s long term goal is to stabilize the country and enhance the economic situation, which will be of benefit to the startups.”
Clients’ changing demands
“Some clients are using the revolution as an excuse to postpone some pending payments or asking for free or discounted services.”
Clients being more open to change
“Some clients are more open to move their infrastructure to the cloud to keep their business on a safer plan.”
“Some clients are being more responsive to solutions that take into account the current situation, which is pushing startups to be more responsive.”
Since the uprisings began, BDD has been committed to remain open and accessible to its community members, providing a safe area to thrive. In addition, services can be accessed and completed online, to streamline operations for startups.
Read more on how startups can find the positive in challenging times, here.